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The InclusIve Workplace


									The InclusIve
Employer Guide to
Reasonable Accommodations
using Assistive Technologies
for Employees with Disabilities

                              Your Technical assistance
                                 and Training resource
“Ms. lacy is a dedicated employee … contributes
 to continuous quality improvements … brings a unique
 and valuable perspective to our discussions.”
               ronna linroth, Manager adult outpatient services,     MIke DreIer, Administrator
                            Gillette lifetime specialty healthcare   Minnesota Independent Living Services (MILS),
                                                                     Minneapolis, MN

                                                                       assIsTIve TechnoloGIes:
                                                                        Large trackball
MIchelle lacY, Receptionist Scheduler Assistant,                        Pre-form cuffs
Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare, St. Paul, MN                    (to hold a pencil with
                                                                        eraser, used to type)

    assIsTIve TechnoloGIes:
     Specialized keyboards,
     mouse, and headset;
     lamp to signal that she
     is on the phone, and a
     lap tray that goes on
     her wheelchair.

                                                                        Table of conTenTs
                                                                        The Case for Productivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 1
                                                                        Debunking the Myths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 3
                                                                        Template for Assistive Technology Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 5
                                                                        Technologies by Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 7
                                                                        Assistive Technology Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 10
                                 The Case for                                                        “after my company incorporated low cost assistive technologies
                                 proDucTIvITY                                                         so that I could be more productive, other employees here began
                                                                                                      using them, making the entire organization more productive.”
                                         More for Less                                                                                        Dara Grimmer
                                 If you’re using glasses to read this Guide, you’re using assis-
                                 tive technology. While most eye glasses are not considered a
                                 disability-related assistive technology, the simple truth is that
                                 all of us increasingly use technology to maximize productiv-

                                                                                                                                                                     The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
                                 ity. people with disabilities often use assistive technologies
                                 which contribute to a more productive workplace, creating a
                                 win-win return on investment.

                                         The Business Case
                                 With increased competition for quality talent, expanding the
                Disability:      pool of qualified candidates is critical to success and is a hot
       A physical or mental      hr topic. Martha Artiles, chief Diversity officer, Manpower
           impairment that       Inc., offers this important trend: “numbers are numbers – we
        substantially limits                                                                                       Dara GrIMMer, Customer Service Representative,
         one or more major
                                 clearly have a population that is ready for retirement and a                          Northern Sun Merchandising, Minneapolis, MN
              life activities.   group of younger people too small to replace them.” From
                                 sheer demographics to job readiness, employee loyalty and
                                 what culture change means for the workplace, inclusiveness                                      assIsTIve TechnoloGIes:
              Major life         has become a business imperative.                                                                Keyboard setup ($60),
               activities                                                                                                         highlighters (under $10),
1                                                                                                                                                                         2
           Basic activities,            The Common Sense
       including working,
                                                                                                                                  Excel spreadsheet and
      performing manual
                                 Diversity refers to workforce demographics and employee                                          spell check (part of MS Office),
  tasks, walking, seeing,        characteristics. Inclusion initiatives increase employee                                         clipboards (under $15),
       hearing, speaking,        engagement and loyalty. Turnover costs range from 90% to                                         headset (under $50),
     breathing, learning,        200% of salary (society of human resource Management).                                           extra note pads (under $10).
        caring for oneself,      retaining key talent is of great concern for employers.
         reading, bending,                                                                                                         “The total came well
     communicating and
                                 The employment and Disability Institute at cornell university                                      under $150 for me
    bodily functions that        published tools to help build inclusive workplaces. Disabil-                                       and others benefitted
      the average person         ity and HR: Tips for Human Resource Professionals (www.ilr.                                        too” says Dara.
  can perform with little includes a comprehensive
           or no difficulty.     section on Assistive Technologies.
    Assistive Technologies: Any item, piece of equipment, or
    product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified,               “60% of new jobs in the united states will require skills
    or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional              held by only 20% of the current workforce.”
    capabilities of individuals with disabilities.                                                                                    bureau of labor statistics

            Debunking the                                                                myth: employee will feel entitled to special treatment, creating
            MYThs                                                                        a morale problem at work

                                                                                                                                                                             The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
                                                                                         fact: According to the society for human resource Management, 79% of
                                                                                         businesses report improved corporate culture resulting from the presence of
            myth: There will be performance issues if I hire someone who has             employees with disabilities in the workplace. similar findings are confirmed by a
            a disability                                                                 study by the Job Accommodation network.
            fact: The performance of workers with disabilities is equal or better
            than that of their non-disabled peers. According to a Dupont survey,
            “… of 811 employees with disabilities … 90% rated average or better in
                                                                                         myth: Accommodations are too costly
            job performance….”. (           fact: For every dollar spent on accommodations, companies received over
                                                                                         $10 (Job Accommodation network) and up to $28 (u.s. Department of labor) in
                                                                                         benefits. “When asked how much they paid for an accommodation beyond what
            myth: employees with disabilities will sue if employment does not work out   they would have paid for an employee without a disability who was in the same
            fact: According to the u.s. Department of Justice, “the Americans with       position, employers typically answered around $320.” (JAn, August 31, 2009,
            Disabilities Act has resulted in a surprisingly small number of lawsuits.”   Workplace Accommodations: low cost, high Impact. http://janweb.icdi.wvu.
            (                                               edu/new/index.htm) Further, this study confirms that many accommodations
                                                                                         cost nothing at all.
3                                                                                                                                                                                    4
            myth: Absenteeism of employees with disabilities will be higher
            fact: “employees who have disabilities demonstrate high levels of loyalty
            and engagement on the job, resulting in lower turnover and absenteeism.”     Reasonable Accommodation: Any change in the work
            (Minnesota Department of employment and economic Development)                environment or in the way things are usually done that enables an individual
                                                                                         with a disability to participate in the application process, to perform the
                                                                                         essential functions (or fundamental duties) of a job, or to enjoy equal ben-
            myth: There will be safety issues in the workplace, and safety issues in     efits and privileges of employment that are available to individuals without
            terms of emergency evacuation.
                                                                                         disabilities. Accommodations help employers not only hire new workers
            fact: According to an equal employment opportunity commission study,         with disabilities, but also keep workers who may become disabled.
            “the safety and attendance records of employees with disabilities exceed     (Office of Disability Employment Policy. Feb. 2009. The Job Accommodation
            the norm.”                                                                   Process: Steps to Collaborative Solutions.)
            Template for                                                         building a culture of Inclusiveness
            TechnoloGY Planning                                                  >> reasonable accommodations allow all employees
                                                                                    to be their most productive selves, which builds
                 current best practices* to identify appropriate job                success for the entire organization.
            accommodations:                                                      >> When businesses encourage employees to make
            1. Identify employee’s abilities, needs, and personal                   reasonable accommodations requests, the result
                 preferences                                                        is an inclusive and disability-friendly work environ-

                                                                                                                                                    The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
            2. Identify and analyze the work environment                            ment and corporate culture which fosters creativity,
            3. Identify and analyze the work task(s)                                innovation, and solid measurable outcomes.
            4. Identify and consider assistive technology solutions              >> reasonable accommodations are the right thing to
            5. Identify training and support needs (if any)                         do. They are a business imperative for success.
                 associated with implementing assistive technology in the
                 workplace.                                                      >> Take the first step: communicate to all employees
                                                                                    that your organization is willing to make reasonable
                                                                                    accommodations when requested. It is a matter of
            For an information systems perspective on developing an Accessible
            Technology plan:
                                                                                    productivity. It makes business sense.
            For types of assistive technology products:                         Source: Joan Willshire, Executive Director,
            able/at/types.aspx.                                                                       Minnesota State Council on Disability

            * Adapted from the seTT Framework by Joy Zabala, ed.D., ATp. For
5             more information, email                                                                                                   6

    Employers may be eligible for $2,400 to
    $15,000 in tax credits. These tax credits are available to help
    employers cover the cost of accommodations for employees with disabilities
    and to make workplaces accessible. Visit the Internal Revenue Service’s        sTeve oachs, Technology Assistant
    website (,,id=185704,00.html)            Southern Minnesota Independent Living
    and consult with your tax advisor.                                             Enterprise and Services (SMILES), Mankato, MN
                                                                                   Seeing, Reading
                                                                           - screen reader software
                        sheIla nelson, Payroll Services                    - refreshable Braille display
                     Minnesota Independent Living Services                 - screen magnification software
                                                                           - computer scanner with ocr software
                                                                           - handheld or desktop magnifier
                                                                           - large print/Braille
                                                                           - stand alone reading machine (desktop or handheld)
                                                                           - Talking devices such as tape measure, scale, calculator, cash register

                                                                                                                                                      The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
                                                                           - communication device
                                                                           - Text messaging and email
                                                                           - cArT services (computer-Assisted realtime Technology)
                                                                           - videophone, TTY, capTel phone
                                                                           - captioning/subtitles
                                                                           - computer settings to provide visual alert
                                                                           - Mirrors
    Technologies by                                                        - Flashing light and/or vibrating alerts (fire/smoke alarms)
    funcTIon                                                                      Speaking, Communicating
                                                                           - pen/paper
    some examples of assistive technologies commonly used to complete
                                                                           - communication devices
    work-related tasks:
                                                                           - speech-to-speech relay service
7           Walking, Standing, Performing Manual Tasks, Lifting, Bending
                                                                                   Learning, Cognition, Concentrating, Thinking, Interacting                  8
    - height adjustable workstation or desk
                                                                           with Others
    - page turners, book holders
                                                                           - checklists, text or photo guides
    - Grips for writing tools and handheld equipment
                                                                           - Multisensory task-promoting device (handheld pc, ipod)
    - Accessible file system
                                                                           - Templates, guides or jigs
    - voice activated phones, copy machines
                                                                           - portable music player with headset
    - ergonomic keyboards and mice, one-handed keyboard, onscreen
                                                                           - natural or full-spectrum lighting in work area
      keyboard with switch access, speech recognition software
                                                                           - color overlays (such as Irlen lenses) or color contrast
    - related: Automatic door opener, accessible parking, work site,
                                                                           - calculator
                                                                           - Wide-lined paper, column guides
                                                                           - portable keyboard (such as an Alphasmart) or mobile device
                                                                             (handheld computer, tablet pc)
    [using assistive technologies,] “cat’s productivity has in-
    creased dramatically … cat may not have sight, but she has a   Assistive Technology
    tenacious desire to overcome the obstacles put before her.”    resources
                           lane s. Waters, american council
                           of the blind, brooklyn center, Mn
                                                                         FUNDING RESOURCES
                                                                   While several of the locAl and nATIonAl resources listed in this section
                                                                   provide funding, either directly or through referrals (identified with the
                                                                   [$] symbol), the Minnesota sTAr program publishes a Directory of

                                                                                                                                                The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
                                                                   Funding and Assistive Technology resources in Minnesota. To download
                                                                   the latest edition, follow this link:

                                                                   These services and organizations provide a wide array of assistive
                                                                   technologies and disability employment services.

                                                                         LOCAL RESOURCES
                                                                   Pathways to Employment (PTE):
                                                                   Increases competitive employment of people with disabilities and
      caTalIna roIsuM, Accountant, American                        meets Minnesota’s workforce needs by bringing together people with
      Council of the Blind, Brooklyn Center, MN                    disabilities, employers, businesses, government and providers.
6                                                                                                                                                    10
                                                                   Minnesota State Council on Disability:
                                                                   Your technical assistance and training resource
        assIsTIve TechnoloGIes:
         Brilliant Adacell Braille Display
         Talking calculator
         Jaws screen reader
         Kurzweil 1000 keyboard                              
         Duxburry Braille Translating software                         funded by the u.s. Department of labor, the What Can YOU Do?
         Juliet Classic Embosser Braille printer                       web site is the centerpiece of the Campaign for Disability
                                                                       Employment, which seeks to promote positive employment
                                                                       outcomes for people with disabilities.
     Minnesota STAR Program:                     Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities:
     Your assistive technology state resource provides device      
     demonstrations, device loans, information and assistance, and more.     promotes independence, productivity, self-determination, integration
                                                                             and inclusion.
     Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development:
                                                                             Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans:
           Business Services: 
           Business development services help companies expand or            Advocates for equality of opportunity for Minnesotans who are deaf,
           relocate in Minnesota, find and train employees, promote          deafblind, and hard of hearing.

                                                                                                                                                          The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
           international trade, and finance business expansions.
                                                                             AgrAbility of Minnesota:
           [$] Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP):                      helps farm and agriculture professionals work safely and independently.
           strategically helps Minnesota businesses and schools              Disability Minnesota:
           competitively train the workforce.                                Your gateway for disability related information in Minnesota.
           Training/retaining employees:                                     [$] EquipALife (ATMn):
                           provides access to equipment, financial assistance, education, information
           Your employment training and retaining employee resource.         and resources.
           [$] Veteran Services:        Minnesota Business Leadership Network:
           Your business resource for hiring veterans.                       An employer-led endeavor that promotes best employment practices and
                                                                             enhances competitive employment opportunities for skilled candidates
           [$] Vocational Rehabilitation Services:                           with disabilities.
11                                                                                                                                                             12
           provides assistance to people with disabilities who need our      Minnesota Regional Assistive Technology Collaborative:
           services to prepare for work, or to find and keep a job.
                                                                             A statewide partnership of providers specializing in adaptive equipment,
     Minnesota Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division:                   services and related support.
     provides a variety of services and maintains an adaptive                Simon Technology Center (PACER):
     communication equipment loan program for employees.                     provides children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to try a
                                                                             variety of software and assistive technology devices.
     Minnesota State Services for the Blind:
     rehabilitation services for persons who are blind, visually impaired,
     or DeafBlind prepare for, seek, retain and regain employment.
     “having a videophone on my desk is very valuable for me             NATIONAL RESOURCES
      because I have equal access to communication with my
      colleagues. When I need to correspond with some people       The Job Accommodation Network (JAN):
      outside the workplace, there is no need to accommodate       Your resource for workplace productivity enhancements and reasonable
      my schedule with the staff interpreter, because profes-      accommodation solutions.
      sional interpreters are available just a click away on the
      videophone!”                                                 Disability and HR: Tips for Human Resource Professionals:
                                      emily burke        
                                                                   providing tools to help hr professionals build inclusive workplaces.

                                                                                                                                                 The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
                                                                   [$] Tax Benefits for Businesses that have Employees with
                                                                   provides information on tax credits and deductions for businesses that hire
                                                                   people with disabilities.
                                                                   Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers – Great Lakes
                                                                   ADA Center:
                                                                   provides information, problem solving assistance and referrals for imple-
                                                                   menting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other related laws.
                                                                   [$] Social Security Administration - Ticket to Work:
                                                                   Allows employers who register and hire people with disabilities who are
          eMIlY burke, School Psychologist
                                                                   receiving social security disability benefits to receive up to $20,000 for
13                                                                 every employee they hire who leaves the social security rolls.                    14
          lIsa WasIloWskI, School Counselor (on screen)
          Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, Faribault, MN      Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN):
                                                          provides employers with free consulting services
                                                                   and resources. see also
       “I do not see these devices as assistive technology.        Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
        These devices are the coolest and latest technology        Your information and technical assistance on the Americans with
        gadgets that happen to be accessible for deaf and          Disabilities Act.
        hard of hearing individuals! These gadgets prove to
        be functional and equally accessible so I can be on
        the same page as my hearing colleagues.”
                                    lisa Wasilowski
             Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy:
             provides national leadership on disability employment policies and
             practices, building collaborative partnerships, and delivering authorita-
             tive and credible data on employment of people with disabilities.
             US Business Leadership Network:
             national business organization using a “business to business” strategy
             to promote the business imperative of including people with disabili-

                                                                                                                                   The InclusIve WorkplAce: Assistive Technologies
             ties in the workforce.

                                                                                         JuDITh frIesen, County Assessor,
       The sources of information contained in this Guide include those listed           Brown County, New Ulm, MN
       under “Debunking the Myths,” the organizations listed under “Assistive
       Technology resources,” and the additional sources listed below.                                                assIsTIve TechnoloGIes:
15                                                                                          Keys-U-see keyboard,                   16
       20 u.s.c. chapter 33, section 1401 (25)                                              Large format monitor,
                                                                                            Big Shot computer magnifier program,                                                             Logitech Trackman Track Ball Mouse,
                                                                                            Regular magnifying glass,
                                                                                            Tabletop CCTV
        This document is available in alternative format.
        see MscoD contact information on back page.                                        “When reading you can make up
        The latest version of this publication is available                                 a few words and get by, but you
        online at                                                can’t make up numbers. Tech-
                                                                                            nology helped me keep my job.”
     photography: Doug knutson
This document was prepared with support from a competitive employment
systems—Medicaid Infrastructure Grant from the centers for Medicare and
Medicaid services to Minnesota’s Department of human services (Grant #
1QAcMs030325). The funds for this grant were authorized through the Ticket
to Work –Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (public law 106-170).
catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance 93768.

                                                    Your Technical assistance
                                                       and Training resource

                     121 E. 7th Place, Suite 107, St. Paul, MN 55101
        651.361.7800 | 651.296.5935 fax | 800.945-8913 voice/tty

                          lorIann Doane, Intervener at the Minnesota
                            State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault, MN,
                              working with student JorDen curran.

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